Continuous Forms Refuse to Die
Fact: The major directs are loosing their stronghold in the marketplace.
Fact: Within the independent channel, many manufacturers of continuous forms have abandoned the product in lieu of more value-added products.
Fact: Laser cut-sheets simply can’t cut it in certain industrial environments.
The upshot? Some astute industry professionals are turning what others consider a dying product into a viable commodity.
For example, Quick Tab II, Tiffin, Ohio, does business with a software vendor that sells its products to auto glass companies, where the dust-and debris-ladened environment wreaks havoc on laser printers. Vice President Mike Daughenbaugh explained these businesses still use Okidata-type, continuous feed printers. The shops that tried to switch to laser printers got fed up with the time and expense of calling in service reps.
Despite environmental demands, the cost-saving benefits of continuous formats versus laser cut-sheet products still make continuous an attractive choice. “Toner costs for laser printers are quite expensive, depending on the amount of area that needs to be covered,” noted Daughenbaugh.
“A lot of the software that has been developed over the last five or six years has promoted the laser cut-sheet and ink cartridges,” agreed Kenneth Adams, president of Central States Business Forms, Dewey, Okla. “Folks are making a lot of money selling small quantities of ink, which can be more expensive than the paper itself. Whether laser cut-sheet or continuous, preprinted forms allow end-customers to save on ink and possibly handling costs, as well.”
Depending upon the type of paper being used, both contributors noted laser printers can also be rather temperamental and prone to misfeeds. Particularly with smooth-surface stocks, there is a tendency to grab extra sheets.
Supply and Demand
The demand for continuous still exists, but more manufacturers are moving away from the products, leaving distributors looking for new sources. “As a result, we’re gaining market share. For us, continuous is a cash cow-type of thing,” said Daughenbaugh.